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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Dental Assistant Fired For Being 'Irresistible' Is 'Devastated'

by Alyssa Newcomb

After working as a dental assistant for ten years, Melissa Nelson was fired for being too "irresistible" and a "threat" to her employer's marriage.

"I think it is completely wrong," Nelson said. "I think it is sending a message that men can do whatever they want in the work force."

On Friday, the all-male Iowa State Supreme Court ruled that James Knight, Nelson's boss, was within his legal rights when he fired her, affirming the decision of a lower court.

"We do think the Iowa Supreme Court got it completely right," said Stuart Cochrane, an attorney for James Knight. "Our position has always been Mrs. Nelson was never terminated because of her gender, she was terminated because of concerns her behavior was not appropriate in the workplace. She's an attractive lady. Dr. Knight found her behavior and dress to be inappropriate."

For Nelson, a 32-year-old married mother of two, the news of her firing and the rationale behind it came as a shock.

"I was very surprised after working so many years side by side I didn't have any idea that that would have crossed his mind," she said.

The two never had a sexual relationship or sought one, according to court documents, however in the final year and a half of Nelson's employment, Knight began to make comments about her clothing being too tight or distracting.

"Dr. Knight acknowledges he once told Nelson that if she saw his pants bulging, she would know her clothing was too revealing," the justices wrote.

Six months before Nelson was fired, she and her boss began exchanging text messages about work and personal matters, such as updates about each of their children's activities, the justices wrote.

The messages were mostly mundane, but Nelson recalled one text she received from her boss asking "how often she experienced an orgasm."

Nelson did not respond to the text and never indicated that she was uncomfortable with Knight's question, according to court documents.

Soon after, Knight's wife, Jeanne, who also works at the practice, found out about the text messaging and ordered her husband to fire Nelson.

The couple consulted with a senior pastor at their church and he agreed that Nelson should be terminated in order to protect their marriage, Cochrane said.

On Jan. 4, 2010, Nelson was summoned to a meeting with Knight while a pastor was present. Knight then read from a prepared statement telling Nelson she was fired.

"Dr. Knight felt like for the best interest of his marriage and the best interest of hers to end their employment relationship," Cochrane said.

Knight acknowledged in court documents that Nelson was good at her job and she, in turn, said she was generally treated with respect.

"I'm devastated. I really am," Nelson said.

When Nelson's husband tried to reason with Knight, the dentist told him he "feared he would have an affair with her down the road if he did not fire her."

Paige Fiedler, Nelson's attorney, said in a statement to ABC News affiliate KCRG that she was "appalled" by the ruling.

"We are appalled by the Court's ruling and its failure to understand the nature of gender bias.," she wrote.

"Although people act for a variety of reasons, it is very common for women to be targeted for discrimination because of their sexual attractiveness or supposed lack of sexual attractiveness. That is discrimination based on sex," Fiedler wrote. "Nearly every woman in Iowa understands this because we have experienced it for ourselves."

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

People Can Be So Cruel - Worst Case of Employment Discrimination Ever


By KEVIN KOENINGER, Dec. 13, 2012

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (CNN) - State highway workers duct-taped a developmentally disabled co-worker to a pole, sodomized him with a Mountain Dew bottle and posted pictures of it on Facebook, the man claims in court. Jason Moody sued the Alabama Department. of Transportation and 13 co-workers and supervisors at the DOT Oneonta facility, in Federal Court.

Moody, who is 5 feet 3 inches tall and weighs 125 lbs., says he was on a smoke break -workers when defendant Chad Standridge lunged at him. "Moody fled the group and attempted to dodge away but ran into [defendant] Bobby Thomas, who forcibly restrained the plaintiff," the complaint states.

"The men then dragged Moody to the hydraulic lift pole located in the Oneonta ALDOT garage, retrieved duct tape from an ALDOT vehicle, and bound him to the pole with the duct tape.

"Defendants placed Moody facing the pole and then duct taped his wrists together around the pole. They taped his head so that he could not move it, and taped around his torso to keep him still. Although this is not the first time that these men have restrained the plaintiff in this fashion, their actions on this day did not stop with false imprisonment."

(To read the actual court filing ie suit click here, http://www.bateshetzel.com/blog.html ) Moody says the men pulled down his pants, and then "Thomas, approaching plaintiff from behind said, 'You're gonna feel this' at which point he struck plaintiff on the buttocks approximately four times with a metal 'lift bar.'

"After being beaten with the 'lift bar,' Moody was forcibly sodomized with a Mountain Dew bottle. Since he was unable to see behind him plaintiff is unsure who wielded the bottle, although defendants showed him the bottle prior to assaulting him."

Moody claims that several members of the group took pictures of him during the ordeal, then called defendant Donald Warren, a supervisor, who "left his office and joined the group inside the garage. Instead of taking any actions to assist Moody, Warren instead approached the plaintiff and placed a baby bottle in his mouth."

Moody says that had been used to feed puppies the crew had found on the side of the road. He says, "the actual source of the milk in the bottle is unknown, but it was suggested by Warren that it had been 'milked' from the injured dog, presumably in an effort to further humiliate and traumatize the plaintiff.

"Plaintiff remained duct taped to the hydraulic pole for between half and hour to an hour. During that period of time, Jones, another supervisor, witnessed the ongoing assault and did nothing to help plaintiff, other than instruct the others to cut him down. Jones did this twice before the group actually released the plaintiff."

Moody says he did not report the incident immediately because of threats from his co-workers. But after pictures were posted on Facebook, he says, he lodged a complaint with ALDOT. He says he "received little or no sympathy from ALDOT employees after his ordeal, even being told ... that '[he] deserved everything [he] got.'

"After the assault various co-workers would taunt plaintiff about it at every opportunity. Plaintiff's derogatory nickname amongst his co-workers is 'killer,' and whenever someone purchased a Mountain Dew beverage one of the defendants would say 'Watch out for Mountain Dew, killer,' or words to that effect."

Moody claims that he was retaliated against after ALDOT investigated, denied overtime and then suspended in August.  Moody says he "was afraid to tell his former wife (to whom he was engaged at the time of the assault) the details of what he had endured, but eventually did so after seeking therapy. Unfortunately, the emotional distress plaintiff suffered and continues to suffer caused significant problems in his marriage, which was terminated by divorce in July 2012."

 Moody seeks compensatory and punitive damages for civil rights violations, disability discrimination, false imprisonment, retaliation, assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent hiring and supervision and invasion of privacy.

He is represented by Mary-Ellen Bates of Bates Hetzel in Birmingham.  To read the actual court filing ie suit click here, http://www.bateshetzel.com/blog.html).

Friday, December 14, 2012

Cabaret Sues Hotel Alleging Racism

Rrazz Room says lease was denied because of black people

The Rrazz Room says it -- and African Americans -- are discriminated against by the Hotel Nikko.

The cabaret's lease with the hotel is not being renewed, and the Rrazz Room's owners say it's because the cabaret attracts too many black people, according to a lawsuit on file at San Francisco Superior Court.

The 190-seat club has hosted jazz, R&B and other performers since 2008, and is seeking at least $1 million, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The hotel denied denying the club a lease extension because of the "demographic" it was attracting, instead claiming that the decision not to renew the lease was based on "economics," the newspaper reported.

The club's last night is New Year's Eve, the newspaper reported.
 
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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

New York High School Student Awarded $1 Million In Racial Harrassment Suit


 
By Victor Trammell
A New York federal court panel upheld a $1 million dollar judgement against the Pine Plains Central School District in Duchess County on Monday. The grounds of the original lawsuit was racial harrassment.

The plaintiff in the suit was Anthony Zeno, a former student at Stissing Mountain High School in Pine Plains, New York. The award was reduced from the $1.25 million a jury originally awarded during a 2010 trial. Zeno, now 23, works as a barber and endured severe racial harrassment, according to the opinion of the appeals court.